Anime Expo Survival Guide
It’s that time of year again! Anime Expo is just a few days away, and weather this is your first Anime Expo or your 10th I’v got the tips to help you get the most of your convention experience. Lots has changed this year including where ticket pick up is, so be sure read all the way through and keep an eye on the Anime Expo Twitter and other pages for changes! Now lets get to the tips!
This year Anime Expo has decided in their infinite wisdom to switch to RFID bands for entry to convention spaces, so if you already have your badges you can go right in! There are multiple entrances this year, in the front of south hall, on both sides of Pico Blvd, in front of west hall, and on the staples center side of West hall. IF this all sounds really complicated, Anime Expo has your back, with this easy to see map. Not all entrances are open all the time please refer to this page for full hours (http://www.anime-expo.org/plan/hours-and-maps/) and more maps.
All of the entrances will be opening an hour before the floor does at 9AM except for the first day when premier fans will be able to get in an hour early. Expect lines outside of each entrance starting well before the doors open, and more lines inside waiting for the floor to open at 10am
Registration this year moves to where the shuttle service has been in past years, and though it will likely be under a tent, temps are expected to be over 90F(32C) for all four days, so please plan accordingly. If you still need to register, be prepared to wait, and bring water and if you need them snacks. Wait times last year for registration were well in to the 4-5-hour range, but hopefully badge mailing has helped that. Sill expect to wait outside in sunlight for over an hour if you need to register at the con.
- Panels and lines
Ok, so your all ready to go, got you badge, your registration, you know where you’re going to enter, you know what you want to do. Now it’s time for the real convention, the line. Anime Expo is often called line con, and for a good reason. There are lines for everything, from the bathrooms to the booths in South Hall. But most of all, there are lines for panels, video programming, and premiers. That 4:00 panel you want to see, people started lining up at 2 for it. And some of those lines are outside, in that heat. Luckily as Anime Expo has expanded one thing they have gotten better and better at is lines, they basically have them down to a science. Each of the larger panel rooms will have a line set off to the side, where you can line up (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1IsxqdkuH5DeUYj0xL9hggFE2tM8&ll=34.042628141490006%2C-118.2687543432541&z=18) see here for full details.
Plan to arrive about an hour before any panel you absolutely must see, and be prepared to wait in the line. If you have any issues finding the line or the panel room itself there are plenty of volunteers around to assist. I Usually pick two panels a day to try and make it to, so that ill have time for lunch.
- Room clearing
You don’t want to wait in that line for nothing, so make sure you know if the room you want to get in to is going to be cleared out before your panel or not! Nothing is as big of a bummer as waiting in line for a panel for hours on end only to be turned away at the door! Though there are many large rooms in the LACC and the JW there are also some small ones. Anything that takes places on the 4th level for example, has a much smaller room capacity and every single year there is a huge lien for the A-1 panel (creators of SAO) and people end up getting turned away at the door.
A full list of rooms and if they are cleared is located here (http://www.anime-expo.org/2018/06/29/ax-2018-room-clearing-updates/) but the best policy is to assume that the larger rooms wont be cleared for smaller panels, so don’t be afraid to camp out all day. Notable exceptions to this include both the Studio Trigger Panel (in hall B at 5:30pm on July 6th) and the SSSS.Gridman World Premiere (also Hall B July 6th but at 7:45pm). Both of these events will not have the room cleared prior to them, so make sure you’re in Hall B plenty early that day if you want to see either of those.
One of the most difficult things to do at any convention is to eat. Food is only available in the convention center for quite a high price, and leaving the con-center means a lot of time away from all your favorite anime stuffs, just to eat. So for this I offer you two tips.
- Eat before you go, the event hall doesn’t open up until 1AM and most days you wont find even early panels before noon, this gives you plenty of time to eat a good breakfast at one of LA’s awesome local breakfast joins (I recommend Eggslut myself) and then take a casual walk down to the LACC or go back to your hotel and hop in a shuttle, which ever feels better for your time schedule.
- Don’t leave the LACC to eat – there are always a large number of food trucks parked in and around the back side of the LACC as well as the much loved BBQ restaurant that’s usually across from west hall, both of these offer options that let you not go far from the concenter and still eat real food in a fast time period.
- Bring snacks- this one is more obvious thank it seems, but a lot of people forget that you can just buy food outside the LACC, there is a city target just up the hill, and several grocery stores in walking distance, its easy to swing by on the way over and grab a few pocketable snacks for your day.
- Exhibit Halls
Just like last year, Anime Expo is filling up both the South and West halls of the LACC in addition to the smaller Kentia hall for Arists alley. What’s not well advertised is that all of the anime content is in the larger South hall, while the smaller West hall is reserved for all things not anime related, including video games, cosplay booths, and tabletop gaming. South hall will also have a huge number of cosplayers in it (as it always does) and of course lots of awesome vendors for anime merch!
West Hall is your home for all things non-anime, from cosplay stations, to the board gaming area, Anime Expo puts it all in West Hall. Notable guests in West Hall Include Blizzard Square Enix, and of course Wacom. This is also where there are tons of backgrounds for cosplayers to post at, and all of your tabletop gaming needs. Its also a nice wide open space, where if you don’t like the feeling of the press of humanity that’s in the South Hall, you can head over to find a nice table to sit at and relax.
- Special events
There are some events that require a ticket beyond what you already have for anime expo to get in. Among these are two of my favorite things at Anime Expo, the After Hours show, and the Maid Café, (the full list is here http://www.anime-expo.org/explore/events/ticketed-events/) . These events have a separate cost, and many will sell out during the con, so use the website above to get your tickets early.
The nice thing about ticketed events is that genrally you don’t have to wait in line for them! Beware though, most if not all concerts are general admission, so if you want that up close and personal show with your favorite J-PoP star, you gotta get there early.
This is the very last thing on my list, because its one that I know the least about. Most of the time autograph sessions are pre-scheduled and their distribution is handeled by which ever company is going to be bringing the guest in. For a full list check out the Anime Expo website (http://www.anime-expo.org/plan/schedule/) and make sure to keep an eye on twitter, and the individual companies pages for info on when to get those auto graph tickets.
That’s all of my collected wisdom from over 5 years of attending Anime Expo as press and fan alike, if you have any more suggsetions or things I can add just shout at me on twitter @joystickfox !